The Government should can its convention centre deal with SkyCity and instead strengthen the gambling law to stop casinos benefiting from the proceeds of crime, the Green Party said today. Internal Affairs says the Ticket In Ticket Out machines currently used at SkyCity raise serious questions about the ease with which money launderers can use the casino to "clean" the proceeds of crime.
"There is a growing body of evidence that SkyCity profits from the proceeds of crime," said Green Party Co-leader Metiria Turei. "Recent high profile cases demonstrate how Sky City is used to launder stolen money, with significant profits retained by the casino. "The concessions SkyCity are seeking in return for building the conference centre, like more Ticket In Ticket Out machines, are likely to lead to more money laundering at the casino. "Rather than change the law to allow SkyCity more opportunities to cause harm, the Government should investigate ways to ensure the casino pays back money stolen from hard working New Zealanders.
"Options to strengthen the law might include amendments to the Criminal Proceeds Act or specifically prohibiting Ticket In Ticket Out machines that help make money laundering easy. "Massey University research shows that about 10,000 New Zealanders are engaged in illegal activities because of their gambling addiction. Pokie machines are the biggest culprits.
"When accountant Richard Arthur Watson stole $5.4 million from his employer to feed his addiction, he went to jail, his family was devastated and his employer suffered massive losses which will never really be recovered. Problem gambling costs $1 billion annually in bankruptcies, arrests, incarcerations, unemployment, divorce, poor physical and mental health, loss of educational opportunity and suicide.
"The Gambling Act was specifically written to keep a lid on the gambling industry - preventing more casinos from opening up and stopping those existing ones from offering more opportunities for gambling. "John Key's casino deal goes well beyond tinkering with the law, it subverts a fundamental intention of the Gambling Act to minimise the harm caused by casinos."
Examples of problem gambling associated with SkyCity
Christian Clifton, a methamphetamine cook who was jailed for life in September 2011, was a VIP member of the high-roller club at SkyCity casino. He gambled $1.3 million in the three years before his arrest. From the $1.3 million gambled, he had a return of $1.1 million , a loss of around $200,000. That was in effect the price to clean up illegally gained money. Herminia Lanuza, an accountant, was jailed in 2010 after stealing $2.7 million to spend as a VIP at SkyCity.